Motorcycle Classics


Reader Contribution by Alison Green

I’m not generally one to rant about situations that I cannot control – but the triggered traffic signal lights here in Sudbury get me going. It is such a good idea, but such a royal pain for motorcyclists. Repeated prodding of the local officialdom has gained nothing -yet.

Forty-five seconds!! Not even a full minute and my car and I have official green-light permission to enter the intersection. Permission not only to enter the intersection, but to perform what ever maneuver we so desire with the full weight of highway traffic act legality behind us. Sheer magic! What could be easier than this? — I arrive at an intersection from a crossroad and wait a very few seconds for green-light permission to proceed. This is winter in Sudbury and I am piloting my trusty cage. Triggered traffic lights work like a charm.

Come the gentler days of spring and summer when two wheels replace four, and what awaits me is sheer frustration. It appears that the magic green light genie does not do motorcycles – or at least not mine! Is my motorcycle no longer legitimate vehicle? It is plated, inspected, insured and driven carefully and courteously. It would seem that my bike and I are not only invisible to most of the other vehicles on the road, but to the very signals that govern the traffic flow.

Should you be fortunate to live in an area with timed signal lights, or none at all, then this is of little concern unless you wander into some town equipped with triggered traffic lights. It still won’t be any problem if you are piloting a four-wheeled vehicle. If you are riding your bike, beware!

Work obliges me to commute across Sudbury some days and evenings at rather odd hours. There are two intersections with triggered traffic signals that I cannot easily avoid even with the most devious and irregular routes. My options at these corners are limited. I can hope that someone else is ahead of me in a car, which will trip the lights in our favour. I can turn right, then make a “U” turn. I can stop, check both directions and proceed in a most illegal fashion to cross the intersection on the red light. None of these options is satisfactory. My luck is such that there is seldom an obliging vehicle ahead of me to trip the lights. If the cross traffic is moderately busy, doing “U” turns is not a happy prospect on a four lane artery, and crossing against the light makes me squirm in more ways than one… On certain busy intersections, I have been obliged to put the bike into neutral, rest it on the sidestand and dash to the sidewalk to poke the pedestrian crossing button. This makes me feel both vulnerable and foolish, and besides, I have never really trusted the sidestand on my bike. (if you ride and older BMW you will understand)

What annoys me the most about this situation is the total lack of official acknowledgement that there is any reason for concern. “take another route” or “turn right then go around a block.” NO, NO and NO again!!! I want to be treated like any other legitimate vehicle/road user under the Highway Traffic Act. Should I be so foolish as to contravene even the most obscure clause in THE ACT, you can be certain that I will be subject to the full weight of the law, directly applied and with no leniency. I just want to be treated with equal respect by the damn traffic signals. Is this too much to ask?

Occasionally on nice July days, our local constabulary can be seen about town exercising pair of elderly HD police bikes, usually traveling as a team. I would bet my back tire that those bikes, sitting side by side, trip the traffic signals just as any car would. Between weight, vibration and noise, something works… Maybe the solution is for me to acquire a Goldwing or some such behemoth that is sufficiently massive that it is recognized by the signal light genie. Maybe I should just stay out of town…

Having chosen to ride a two wheeled vehicle, I have enough to keep me occupied defying the immutable laws of gravity and the inconsideration of other road users. I definitely don’t need the added inconvenience and aggravation of traffic signals that ignore my existence. Happy riding! — Alison

  • Published on Mar 24, 2009
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